Unified physical and virtual IT management for midsized businesses
If you used WSUS to keep your computers secure before upgrading to System Center Essentials, you probably used Group Policy to configure the Windows Update agent settings on the computers in your environment to connect to your WSUS server. System Center Essentials, which includes WSUS technology, uses the same Group Policy settings to configure managed computers to connect to the Essentials server.. If you install Essentials, without removing these Windows Update settings from your existing Group Policies, you may notice this symptom in the Computer space of the Essentials console.
Computers will be listed, but their hardware inventory will be listed as unknown, and they will also show as 'Not yet contacted'. This is because the Windows Update agent on that computer it not connecting to the Essentials server for updates and to submit inventory.
To correct this condition, check your Group Policy objects that are applicable to computers being managed by Essentials to see if the Windows Update are still configured configured (these settings are in 'Computer Configuration\Administrative Templates\Windows Components\Windows Update' in each GPO). If you do find these, carefully consider whether they can be removed and if they are interfering with the same settings that are being applied by the the 'SCE Managed Computers (<essentials server name_MG>)' Group Policy Object. This is the GPO that Essentials uses to configure the Windows Update agent on Essentials managed computers. Once these settings are removed from other Group Policy objects, you should notice that your computers will start reporting inventory within a few hours (due to the Group Policy refresh interval of 2 hours plus a random 0-30 minutes).
(thanks to Essentials team member Stephanie for this article!)
If you've tried to use the Remote Assistance task in the Essentials Computer space to connect to a Vista or Windows Server 2008 computer, you've found that the task to initiate a Remote Assistance session does not work. The task does not work because of a change in how Remote Assistance works in Vista and Server 2008.
In Windows XP and Server 2003, Remote Assistance was initated by using helpctr.exe. In Vista and Server 2008, Remote Assistance is initated by using msra.exe. helpctr.exe cannot be used to connect to Vista and Server 2008 computers. msra.exe can be used to connect to XP, Server 2003, Vista and Server 2008 computers. Also, msra.exe can only be executed on Vista and Server 2008 computers.
The Remote Assistance task in the Essentials computer space only uses helpctr.exe. That said, you do not need to wait for a new management pack release to get this functionality. Below are instructions on how to create your own task for Remote Assistance that will display in the Computer space and work with Vista and Server 2008.
In the Authoring space (the paper and pencil in the bottom of the wunderbar) expand Management Pack objects and right click on 'Tasks'. Choose create a new task. Choose Console Tasks\Command Line. Click next. Name the task "Remote Assistance for Vista/Server 2008". Chose a task target by clicking the Select... button and target "Windows Computer". Chose next. In the Application field, enter %SystemRoot%\system32\msra.exe. In the parameters field, add:
In the working directory, chose %SYSTEMROOT%\system32. Uncheck the option to display output when the task is run.
Now from the Computers space, choosing a computer in a view such as All Computers, your task will appear in the available tasks lists next to the Remote Assistance task that uses helpctr.exe. Note that this new Remote Assistance task will only work if you are using the Essentials console on a Vista or Server 2008 computer.
Check out this blog post from Essentials MVP Bjorn Axell on how to use SQL Server Standard Edition or Enterprise Edition reporting services to scheduled Essentials reports to be delivered via subscriptions.